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Be honest...how good are you?

Be honest...how good are you?



Original Poster:

6,792 posts

172 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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When I was 17/18, I used to reeeeeeeally want to be a rally driver. Or racing driver. I mean reeeeally want it. But these days, I'm not so sure.

I don't know if it's the fact I'm now 38 and can feel certain things changing within myself, i.e. eyesight, back pain etc etc, but when I watch motorsport on the tv now, I look at the onboard stuff and think to myself "you know, I don't think I could control a car like that, and even if I could, I'm not sure I'd have the balls to do it flat out".

Back when I was in my early twenties I would have said given the chance I would have been right near the top, but now I'm not sure I ever actually would have got anywhere near.

So which is it? Is it just my ailing physical condition that's making me think like this or is it unlikely I would have made it?

How good would YOU have been?

Feel free to move this to the lounge or wherever suitable if required.

Edited by Centurion07 on Friday 18th May 18:25


2,395 posts

145 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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This reminds me of a signature of somebody on the British Rally Forum.... 'The older I get the faster I was'biggrin

Seriously though, you will only ever know if you try, but the chances are you will be middle of the road like most of us, only a few have got exceptional talent, some have none at all.


668 posts

102 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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When I was younger I always fancied being a racing driver.
I went to Brands Hatch years agp and did several XR3i and Formula Ford sessions.
The instructors that taught me made me quickly realize that I was not going to to be the next F1 hero.

Did the same with bikes and also realized that although I think i am quick, against racers I am way behind.

I settle for the odd trackday now.


8,437 posts

202 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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It's mostly down to money and how much money one had to piss away on motorsport.
As a wise man once said, "to make a small fortune in motorsport, start with a large one!"

I started late, in my 30's and enjoyed a few good years in club racing. Decided to up the game a bit and do FPA - tested with Brundle's and Palmer's kids - and was within a second of them, which was pretty good since it was my first time in a slicks and wings car. But decided against spending sheds loads of money and bought the Corvette that I still have instead. Definetly had more fun in that, then I would had in a season of racing.

But I have recently gone back to racing - I coach/instruct now which will lead to some drivers later in the year. And to my surprise I haven't lost any speed for not racing for 6 years. Took a day to get back on it - but i think once you have a certain level, that you never loose it. Look at all the old legends that still race and are still at the front of the pack (not that I'm one of them )

I think the only difference is that the older one gets, the more you have to loose. So perhaps we're a little more careful ?!


7,343 posts

144 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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I've done enough social stuff, training days and indoor karting to realise that even at that level, which is a level below any level which I could be actually called racing, I'm quite good because I enjoy it so have practice, and I am sensitive to the car's balance which seems to make car control a strong point, but I don't read a road very well, my race raft is rubbish, I make mistakes under pressure and it isn't particularly hard to find someone quicker than me.

In my younger days I thought I could have made it if I'd had the chance, now I realise I am nowhere near the level that a racer with talent would be in my situation. I'm just another well practiced wannabe and never would have been anything more than that.


10,713 posts

123 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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This is PH, we're all bloody brilliant.

In reality, I'd love to give it a go, but I'm sure I won't be any good. I'm really temped to get a track car, or even track mine just to give it a go. I've not done it up till now because of money (and I'm scared). Would be fun, even if I'm not quick.


1,641 posts

81 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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I've won a few races in the last couple of years, am I good? For a club level racer yes I suppose! Put me against national level drivers and I wouldn't stand a chance!!! Do I care? Nah not really aslon as I'm having fun!!!

Life Saab Itch

37,067 posts

113 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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I reckon I'm probably better than some of the guys I spannered for.

A few years ago I did a test day in my formula ford at Castle combe. Back then, the fast boys were doing low 72 second laps on brand new tyres. I went out in my car which is as old as I am, on 5 year old tyres and immedeatly discovered a misfire when going around right hand bends. I only stayed out 5 laps and the best of them was a 83 second lap. I came in, we tried to cure the misfire (it never went away) and set the tyre pressures a bit higher to try and get a decent heat cycle through them. I went back out and did 10 laps all at 78 seconds within a tenth of each other. I came back in and we looked at the data and I had compensated for the misfire bybeing 101% on the throttle before I had come off the brakes. I'd like to think that, given new tyres and an engine that didn't miss, I would be a reasonable amount quicker. The guy who I was running that year recorded a best time that year of 73.5 seconds...with a Neil Bold engine putting out 118.5hp and brand new tyres...

But I get more enjoyment now, from being fast and smooth than outright laptimes.

I'm not a natural competitor, I don't have that burning desire to be better than everyone else. I know I'm better than the average joe and that's good enough for me. I prefer the adrenaline of a crashed car that has to be ready for the next session which is in less than........


668 posts

102 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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I recall many years ago a top racer said most joe bloggs would keep up with a racer on the slower corners, it is the fast 100mph corners that sort out the proper racesrs from the wanabees. Not many people have the balls to go round a corner at 150 mph + pulling several G.
It's like a fairground ride that could go terribly wrong!


443 posts

74 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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I've crashed a few times but then again, so did McRae.


3,276 posts

139 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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I have delusions of mediocrity myself - in terms of talent - but I reckon that I still enjoy driving fast around racing tracks more than a lot of people who have miles more natural ability. Given that almost nobody (statistically speaking) actually makes money out of driving fast, I reckon that is a good score to my man maths thumbup


4,382 posts

128 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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^^^^ I'll drink to those sentiments.
Although my reactions are still good and I love Brands Hatch as a driving circuit, I've spent too many years driving my family around, driving trucks or limos.
I value my life, family and licence and I just bottle it at about 120.
Would I have been any different if I could have afforded a fast car when I was younger? I'll never know.


339 posts

141 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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I raced karts for 9 years up to being 17, and in my final year raced in the 'Super 1' (national championship), best I got was a 5th at one of the rounds. I also did a single seater schloarship that year and got to the semi-finals, so not bad by any means, but as a lot of people have said, money is a MASSIVE part of it.

See quite a few of the names I raced with competeing in various national championships nowadays, reckon that if you have a fair bit of talent and get the right breaks (or are fortunate enough to have the money there), then you've a pretty good chance of being able to race at a decent level (being a paying driver, not a pro).

I say if your fortunate enough to be able to do it, then go for it! Can think of much worse ways to spend your weekends....! driving


18,436 posts

119 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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I'm quicker than most of the other chaps in the office but I'd be WAY behind anyone who was paid to race for a living.


726 posts

135 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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Hard to say. Certainly no F1 star and I think it's often easy to spot the exeptionaly gifted ones in most motorsport disciplines. Then again I agree with the money issue. As a hillclimber in a car with 500+ bhp per ton and no temperature in the tyres + a skinny strip of tarmac to punt it down it's hard to know how much to commit to go that bit quicker. If I had more cash I could spend more on car set up to get the balance, more on test sessions to push the car in a safe environment, more to spend on new rubber, more to spend on new bits when I've pushed it beyond my/it's limits! Unfortunately I don't have More therefore I have to consider this when competing.


236 posts

107 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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Get yourself booked into a Club 100 race. They have every ability from beginners through to British champs, ex-super 1 drivers and even the odd appearance from current professional drivers. You'll soon find out where you fit in that range.

One thing I would add is coaching will play a large part in the successful of any driver. I wish I'd done more sooner. Spending money on the car may gain a few hundreds. Spending money on your skills will bring you a few tenths.


16,249 posts

209 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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I'm faster than my budget!!


420 posts

119 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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I agree with 51mon.

It sounds harsh and cynical but money and opportunities are a huge part of it.

I've only ever done bits and bobs in cars and not at a serious level but have spent quite a few years now in karts. Not done super one or any national series due to money but have raced against and been as quick as/beaten quite a few professional karters/racing drivers.

I used to think there was something called talent but now I believe its all practice and mentality followed by money and opportunites.

Karting is a good example as its so pure and cheap so for example take a super one (british champ) meeting. Chances are the top 10/15 will be split by very little in terms of pace/racecraft/general skills. Of these say 5 would be able to afford to progress to simgle seaters for example. Again look at say formula ford, the top 5-10 will likely be simialr pace/racecraft/general skills. Of these say 1-2 every year can afford/get the opportunity to race higher level single seaters. same thing happens at that level right up to formula 1. Obviously new skills are learnt along the way so its hard in practice to say bob from karting would be quick in an f1 car but I'd bet given the same seat time/ upbringing / opportunites for instance Hamilton was given a fair few people would end up with a similar ability.

There is conflicting scientific evidence but most of what I've read suggests that in general humans are the same and its upbringing, practice and mentality that make the differences. The likes of Hamilton/Alonso/etc are not unique snowflakes and in my eyes just products of a system.

Then again maybe I'm a cynic!

Edited by fastcaterham on Friday 18th May 22:41


3,788 posts

99 months

Friday 18th May 2012
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Put a 'I'm a PH'er so really pretty good' road driver in the passenger seat with any half decent racer at the wheel and it'll shut them up for life.


4,580 posts

124 months

Saturday 19th May 2012
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Haha. Yeah missed chances. To be able to play life again, just once...

First time I got in a Kart and realised what "going for it meant", I was beating everyone I came up against, and comfortably. I must've raced 1,000 different "regular people" and could beat them all. It's how many started out in racing in my era. But you need regular practice.

Now I'm older I appear to have lost the knack. Karting only once every couple of years would do that as well as fear, age, reaction times, will etc. etc.

I have no doubts at all, if I had been able to take up karting as a kid when I really got into motorsport, I'm sure today (or rather a few years ago now!) I'd be a racing driver of somesort. I have no delusions I'd be famous or in a good formulae, but a racing driver and able to live of it, nonetheless.

Alas, like many end up, I'm a nobody. An also-ran. A backmarker. A dreamer. frown

What I'd like to do though is teach kids stuff. Even if just the basics, racecraft and for fitness/strength. Give them the chance and belief I never really had. That's the responsibility of the older generation, right?